Friday, October 01, 2010

Pakistan Floods: To give or not to give?

Someone emailed me an article titled: “Pakistan Floods: This man says he won't give a dime and here are his reasons ...... up to you to agree or disagree with him”.

I disagree.

The article is written by Patrice Lagacé. Basically he says he “will not give one red penny towards the humanitarian relief in Pakistan” for 3 reasons.

Firstly, Pakistan is a nuclear power which spends billions on military hardware. Secondly, there are many filthy-rich Pakistanis who evade tax. Last but not least, he says; “On September 11th 2001, when the Twin Towers in New York were destroyed by terrorists, yes I do remember very well having seen live television coverage showing adults and children from Iran, Pakistan and other muslim countries, dancing in the streets and having a whale of a time because the United States had been touched right in the heart. They were elated because thousands of Americans were killed.”

Personally, I think this gentleman’s logic is a little warped. I believe whether or not a person should give towards the relief effort in Pakistan should be governed by two questions only.
One, will my money help some suffering human being? If it doesn’t; if it will end up in the pocket of some corrupt politician, then I shouldn’t give. Two, do I have the means to help in the first place.

However, even if he does not agree with my points and feels justified in not wanting to help, I think he should refrain from telling others not to; which is what his article is all about. If someone dies as a direct result of his irresponsible diatribe, that person’s blood is on his hands.

What do you think?


Brian and Tess said...

The problem is that yes Pakistan may be a corrupt regime but it is its people who are suffering from the floods and they have little or no power to control what their ruling elite spends money on (military hardware, nuclear weapons etc). So why punish the people when it is Western governments who are shoring up those corrupt elites for their own political ends?

As individuals we should certainly consider which organisation receives our donations and there have been Pakistanis in this country who have said loudly 'Don't give money to any government bodies but do give to the recognised international non governmental bodies.

And its too easy to whip up further anti-Muslim feeling when you criticise the Pakistani regime, has this journalist been consistently criticising this regime or has he just jumped on that easy band-wagon now to justify letting the common Pakistan people suffer without adequate help?

Edward said...

Most of the victims of the flood (and other disasters) are innocent people who should not be tarnished with the same brush as the corrupt politicians and extremists. Fortunately many aid organisations like World Vision, Community Aid Abroad and the Red Cross have relief efforts in disaster zones (including regions ravaged by years of internecine warfare,) regardless of the local political ideology. Neither is it a prerequisite to embrace the religious beliefs of the organisation. Compassion for the less fortunate is the only essence required. I agree with you, Chun See, that if we are unwilling to contribute towards the relief effort, then we should refrain from discouraging those who wish to participate positively. There is a poem which sums up a beautiful approach to the way we should relate to others:

" I shall pass this way but once;
any good therefore that I can do,
or any kindness that I can show
- let me not defer nor neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.”

jean said...

Twas unbearable to watch their misery while I was comfortable in my armchair.I have given to the Red Cross & 2 little unknown but brave orgs who try to save the animals too.Cattle is important to the livelyhood of the devastated farmers.
To me there was urgence.I'll cope with the questions later.

Edward said...

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Have a great day! =)

Unknown said...

I believe that giving is a very personal act which depends on one's own emotional connection and conviction for the cause. Throwing politics, broader economics and other ideological reasons into the equation may sometimes be focusing too much on the woods, and too little on the individual wiltering trees/people.

For me, I normally give only to those causes which I have a particular affinity for. Hard to explain what they are.

I'll check out the Pakistan situation meanwhile.

Lam Chun See said...

I have been watching some of the videos of the Pakistan Floods on Youtube. According to UN chief, this disaster is worse than the 2004 Asian Tsunami and the Haitian Earthquake combined. At the same time, the humanitarian aid from the rest of the world is much less. I think the situation is getting quite dire. We should do our small part.

Talking about donations, I am reminded of a video clip I once saw about this guy who was throwing starfishes one by one into the sae. He wanted to rescue them as the tide receded. Someone came along and asked him; "What difference is it going to make? There are millions of these starfishes on the beach".

The man did not answer. He stooped down and picked up a starfish and tossed it into the waves and replied; "It made a difference to that one." And then he continued with his task.

I think we can each pick up one starfish and do a small bit.

Tim said...

I think you are correct to say that Chun See. If we keep having such thoughts, most will not be bother to help others but rather be focus on a 'me only' which presume could be more prevalent in the current era.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to those peoples who mentioned that, they will not hesitate to aid any in need.
Without taking into account their backgrounds. Be they angels or devils.

Sorry, but i will not take this moral high ground by saying that i will do the same.
In fact, i kind of agree with the author of that article.

From the verstehen position, i could understand his logic. Religions place aside.
In fact, in his article he also mentioned that he will not provide a cent to aid those in New Orleans. The twin tower is perhaps a bad analogy.

If country S, whose citizens were killed and the countrymen of those perpetrators were shown celebrating?
Would you still be willing to provide assistance?

If country P does not lift a finger to help its own people why should other countries take up the burden?
And if suppose country S help country P, i would be wondering could that $ not be use to help the poor in country S.
Yes, i do understand perhaps there is a need to cultivate goodwill for economic & diplomatic purpose.
But do the poor in country S understand that?

Yes someone may dies as a direct result of his irresponsible diatribe.
Or perhaps he could have save thousands in the future with this article when that 'someone' dies.

What i am trying to say is that there are various epistemic theories of truth.
A person should be able to express his or her view.
Otherwise that person is just a part of the herd.
With the fear of freedom, never be able to grasp positive liberty.
What do you think?

Providing humanitarian aids are only a means to an end.
Providing $ to NGO does not mean that it will be properly utilized.
If you give a man a fish he will stave off hunger for a day but if you taught him to fish he will never be hungry. Unless he over fish.

Sorry for the endless tirade and for any perceive offense given.
Feel free to criticize, in fact please do.

I have no idea why I am so motivated to write this?
Normally I prefer to read without commenting.
BTW I am in no way related to the author of that article and GREAT blog, been following for sometimes.

Edward said...

What has epistemology got to do with this? Of course you have a right to your position but I cannot see how this should be couched in pseudo philosophical discourse. We are all part of a herd; it’s a question of whether you hail from the nose end or the arse end.

To say that if a country does not assist its citizens, then others should not be involved is tantamount to saying that a child treated badly by his or her family should not be assisted. The abused child is the responsibility of its parents. Thankfully such attitudes are not commonplace. Perhaps this is not such a good analogy.

When confronted by human suffering, I can only be concrete. There is pain, poverty, hunger and related miseries in many developing nations. There are always humanitarian disasters wrought by human weaknesses and nature.

Many individuals feel they can make a difference by contributing positively toward the cause of alleviating human suffering. Like the doctors and nurses who volunteered for Médecins Sans Frontières. Others prefer to sit comfortably in their highfalutin position and immerse themselves wholly in abstraction using political, economic or philosophical arguments to pronounce what is essentially their right to non-involvement.

It’s really a question of which end of the herd you choose to belong. No apologies for being judgemental. Like you, I also have no idea what motivates me to write this.

Lam Chun See said...

Just like to make 2 comments in connection with Anon's points.

1) We won't know if our money will go to an angel or a devil. That's true, but the probably of it going to a 'devil' is low. Most likely it will go to someone who is neither.

2) Citizens of country S whose contrymen have been killed by the terrorist may feel emotionally upset to want to give. That I can understand. But my point is, don't discourage others from giving.

Office furniture said...

These is one of the personal act. in his article he also mentioned that he will not provide a cent to aid those in New Orleans. The twin tower is perhaps a bad analogy.

Anonymous said...

I will not help.

Anonymous said...

Pakistan may be an institutionally corrupt regime but it is its people who are suffering most from the floods. They have little control with what their masters spend the donations on. Why make the ordinary man on the street suffer? Whiteboard | Whiteboards | A Boards | Pavement Signs | Notice Boards